Democratic Donor Ed Buck Charged Following Overdose Deaths - NBC New York
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Democratic Donor Ed Buck Charged Following Overdose Deaths

Ed Buck was charged with operating a drug house and providing methamphetamine to a man who survived an overdose Sept. 11

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    Democratic Donor Ed Buck Arrested

    After a man overdosed in his apartment last week, Ed Buck is arrested and charged with multiple felonies. Eric Leonard reports for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019)

    Felony charges were filed Tuesday against prominent Democratic political activist and noted donor Ed Buck, who is accused of causing the drug overdose of a man inside his West Hollywood apartment last week, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.

    The charges made public Tuesday evening come after two men overdosed on illegal drugs and died inside Buck's apartment. No charges have been filed in direct connection with those cases. 

    Buck was charged with operating a drug house and providing methamphetamine to a third man who survived an overdose Sept. 11.

    Prosecutors have also filed court papers to increase Buck's bail to $4 million, saying he's a danger to the community. The bail motion states, "...defendant Buck is clearly a predator with no regard for human life. His behavior is malicious and beyond reckless."

    Buck is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Wednesday morning. 

    The motion also says that even after the deaths of two men in his apartment and the recent criminal charges involving the overdose case, authorities say Buck’s allegedly reckless behavior continued.

    "In addition to these three incidents, Defendant Buck has engaged in and continues to engage in the exact same behavior, namely preying on vulnerable men and injecting them with dangerously large doses of methamphetamine," prosecutors wrote. "The full scope of his consistent malicious behavior is unknown."

    The bail motion also details the allegations surrounding the September overdose that led to the charges. "On or about September 4, 2019, Buck personally and deliberately administered a dangerously large dose of methamphetamine to Joe Doe. Concerned he was suffering from a methamphetamine overdose, Doe left the apartment to get medical attention."

    "Joe Doe returned to Buck's apartment on September 11, 2019," the DA’s office said. "On that date, shockingly, Buck again personally and intentionally injected two dangerously large doses of methamphetamine into Doe. Doe again developed the symptoms of methamphetamine overdose. Buck refused to render aid to Doe, but rather thwarted Doe's attempts to get help. Doe eventually fled the apartment and called 911 from a nearby gas station."

    Buck, through his attorney Seymour Amster, has repeatedly denied he had a role in the deaths of Gemmel Moore in July 2017 and Timothy Dean in January, and said he would fight wrongful death and civil rights allegations filed in a civil lawsuit earlier this year.

    "We'll fight the allegations vigorously," Amster said earlier this year.

    The lawsuit was filed in February by Moore's mother, LaTisha Nixon, who said she was angry authorities had previously failed to file criminal charges in the death of her son, who was 26 years old. 

    "I just think they don't care," Nixon said of prosecutors and detectives who've worked on her son's case and who were also named in the lawsuit. Last week a federal judge asked Nixon's attorneys to clarify and resubmit allegations against all of the defendants as the judge considered efforts by Buck and the LA County District Attorney's Office to dismiss the case.

    The lawsuit alleges wrongful death, sexual battery, hate violence, drug dealer liability, negligence, infliction of emotional distress, and two violations of civil rights. An updated filing also accused Buck of engaging in human trafficking, for allegedly paying for Moore to travel to West Hollywood from Texas.

    The case accused Buck of personally administering the drug that took Moore's life. "Mr. Buck injected Mr. Moore with a lethal dose of crystal methamphetamine," it said.

    "There's more to the story than is being told," Buck's attorney said of the allegations in the suit. "If necessary, we'll tell the full story in a court of law." 

    The District Attorney's office declined to comment in February and July, when the lawsuit was amended.

    Moore's death was initially classified as an accidental methamphetamine overdose. The LA County Sheriff's Department re-examined the case after Nixon and activists demanded a deeper investigation, though the LA County DA's office ultimately declined last year to file criminal charges against Buck.

    "They are extremely grateful and relieved that that Mr. Buck is finally off the streets, or out of his drug home," Hussein Turk, an attorney representing Nixon in the lawsuit against Buck and LA County, said in response to the charges against Buck.

    Turk added, "It’s unfortunate that it’s taken a third overdose for the LA Sheriff's Department to finally act, we believe that that third overdose could have probably been avoided."

    In January, 55-year-old Timothy Dean died in Buck's apartment on Laurel Avenue under similar circumstances. Buck through his attorney has said Dean arrived at the apartment already under the influence of a drug. The LA County Coroner's Office said this week the cause of death was still being investigated and any findings will be kept secret at the request of the Sheriff's Department.

    Nixon's attorneys, Nana Gyamfi and Hussain Turk, said they believe Buck has received preferential treatment from police and prosecutors, possibly as a result of his history of political activism and campaign donations to a wide variety of elected officials.

    "The civil lawsuit doesn't only get some level of accountability from Ed Buck and from the District Attorney's office, the County - in the language that they understand, which is money, but it also enables us to expose what Ed Buck is doing," Gyamfi said.

    West Hollyood Mayor John d'Amico told NBCLA Tuesday, "If proven, these charges appear to confirm what many of us suspected for some time, that Mr. Buck was recklessly harming members of the community, as recently as this month, and finally the District Attorney is taking action to stop this from happening again."

    West Hollywood Councilmember Lauren Meister told NBCLA, "I cannot speak on behalf of Council, but I think we can all agree that we hope justice will be served."

    West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Lindsey Horvath told NBCLA, "The families of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean - along with members of the West Hollywood community - worked tirelessly to see this day come. Because people kept memories of Gemmel and Timothy from fading away as mere accidents, the investigation into the circumstances of their tragic deaths continued. I support the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department in doing whatever it takes to bring closure and peace to all of the friends and families whose loved ones were victimized. There is still a long way to go for justice to finally be served in their names, however, we hope the evidence from this arrest will finally make clear what has happened, and we hope will never happen again."

    Robert Kovacik contributed to this story.